The Government has confirmed it is expanding the programme to over three million pupils in secondary school years 7 to 11, who will be offered the vaccine as a nasal spray through their school’s vaccination programme from 1 September.
‘Expanding the offer of flu vaccination to all secondary school pupils this winter will provide millions of young people with extra protection,’ said Health Minister Maria Caulfield.‘Importantly, this will also reduce the risk of transmission to more vulnerable groups, including the elderly, reducing hospitalisations and freeing up bed capacity across the NHS. Last winter we saw the devastating impact this illness can have, so it is important all pupils take up the offer of the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones from falling unwell.’
The decision to expand the programme is in line with a long-standing recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which highlights the benefits of directly protecting school-aged children from flu, and the indirect benefits to the wider population. All primary school children and infants aged 2 and 3 will also be offered the flu vaccine.
‘Last winter we saw how quickly flu can spread within communities, so I’m pleased to see the flu vaccination offer being extended to secondary school children in the autumn term,’ said NHS Director of Vaccinations and Screening, Steve Russell.
‘The vaccine offers vital protection against flu which can cause nasty symptoms, and I would urge all young people and parents to make sure they join millions of others who get vaccinated each year to take up the offer when they can – it’s quick, easy and offered in schools, so there’s really no reason to delay.’